REM – UBERLIN
God knows what it is about Berlin, but every band who spends time there seems to come back invigorated and inspired. Even grizzled old veterans aren’t immune – with REM the latest band to use the German cultural Mecca for inspiration. ‘Uberlin’, with it’s references to Berlin’s railway system as some kind of metaphor for life’s ‘journey’, is the first single to be lifted from REM’s 15th studio album Collapse Into Now – and is probably one of the strongest songs we’ve heard from them since at least 2001’s Reveal.
‘Uberlin’ is one of those beautiful, mellow and melancholic songs that REM seem to be able to produce so effortlessly. It doesn’t have much of a chorus, but doesn’t actually need one – flowing breezily along an elegant acoustic guitar line that keeps you immersed from start to finish. As usual with REM, Michael Stipe’s ‘self-helpy’ lyrics start to grate a little after repeated listens, with lines like “I will make it through the day / And then the day becomes the night / I will make it through the night” seeing Stipe in his favoured preachy ‘you can make it’ mode. That’s just a slight niggle though, as on the whole ‘Uberlin’ is the single we’ve been waiting for from REM for almost a decade – showcasing their ability to write original, distinctive and memorable pop songs.